Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: On 'hanging out' with a comfortable god’

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Published: Thursday, July 17 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

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george of the jungle
goshen, UT

Salvation and damnation are alike, you have to die to get ether one. All I can do is my best.

Joan Watson

One hears many times the saying: I don't like the God of the Old Testament as he is wrathful and harsh, however, I accept the loving, forgiving, God of the New Testament. In ones opinion, a careful reading and study of both sets of scriptures, reveals that the God of the Old Testament, and the God of the New Testament is one and the same. It is we humans who either choose to live by God's precepts and commandments, or we do not - in either case, consequences of our own making, good or bad, follow.

John Marx
Layton, UT

From the article:

"The criticism runs as follows: ... The angry God of the Old Testament was created by fallen people in their own image. They blamed on him the natural consequences of human evil.

Now, there’s undoubtedly truth in this. Sinful mortals have indeed often projected their prejudices, violence, hatreds and vengeful desires onto Heavenly Father, who loves his children and weeps at their self-inflicted suffering"

For the record, does this 'projection' include the Old Testament? In other words should we understand that parts of the Old Testament (for example the ethnic cleansing of the promised land) might simply be humanity projecting their "vengeful desires" onto God?

Cedar Hills, UT

Through out my life I have loved to climb big mountains - from Utah's Kings Peak to California's Mount Whitney. The peace - joy and sheer fun I have experienced has been priceless. I have also hunted elk/deer since I was in the second grade. As a second grader I would follow along behind my dad as he taught me what his dad had taught him about the experience of hunting. Bagging the animal is only the final scene of a much larger drama that is hunting. It is a totally addicting and beautiful experience. There have been so many people who have never been able to catch my vision of climbing or hunting. They laugh - they critisize - they just don't get it. They have their own distorted notion of what hunters are and they think that climbing up through near vertical rock into thin air in the cold pre-dawn is just plumb crazy ...but they have NEVER tried either climbing or hunting.

So many people do the same thing with God. They have their own distorted notion but they have never investigated..not seriously. You can never know what you don't do.

Steve C. Warren

As I wrote about last week's column: "In the apparent conflict between a loving God and an angry God, the greatest weight should be given to the actual appearances of Christ in the New Testament and the risen Lord in the Book of Mormon."

The destruction of the most evil parts of Nephite society before Christ's appearance frankly put a fallen people out of their misery and sent them to a better place. It occurred after years of patience and long-suffering. In fact, those who survived weren't necessarily all that righteous--they were simply "more righteous than they" who died. The destruction does not change the fact that Christ is preponderantly a loving God and that certain bloody parts of the Old Testament likely reflect the nature of the people who wrote them rather than the nature of God.

Those who follow Christ because they understand his loving kindness and mercy will continue to obey him long after those who obey out of fear have grown tired of it.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

"It is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds."

Is it any wonder why some Christians chafe at how preachers talk down to church members as though they’re all ten years old? That’s not a rarity in any church whose clergy's priority is to perpetuate the ecclesiastical power structure.

The silliness of Elder Holland’s flippant observation aside, is there any perception of divine attributes that doesn’t conform to what some seekers wanted in a god? If your taste in a god runs towards one of vengeance and wrath, you got him. If you prefer one of love and mercy, you can easily enough find one like that too if you shop around.

Westland, MI

That is the amazing beauty and marvelous wonder of the new heaven and the new earth in eternity. God the Eternal Father [JEHOVAH] will never again be angry or wrathful because there will be no more sin forever.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

I can guess how gods of wrath and retribution might have came into human imagination. Droughts, famines, floods, earthquakes, etc. would devastate a locale taking a huge toll in human life. One day, a man finishes building a dwelling for his family. The next day, his loved ones are buried under a pile of rubble.

Today we have understanding of what causes natural calamities. For ancient man with no knowledge of meteorology, seismicity, etc. those events must have been a great mystery. Instead of science, ancient man had to rely on priests to fill in the blanks. In antiquity, priests could be agents of a ruling class, intermediaries between man and their gods.

Think of the infinite possibilities for a shrewd priest who could convinced the tribe that their disobedience to him had angered the gods. That might make the tribal priest a man of considerable power.

That’s part of our cultural heritage that’s still with us to day.

Orem, Ut

"A supremely complacent atheist took the spirit of this portrayal to its limits during an online conversation 15 years ago when he assured me."

Said conversation occurred in 2001. See Daniel Peterson, "Reflections on Secular Anti-Mormonism," FARMS Review 17/2 (2005): 444, and Daniel Peterson, "Defending the Faith: Religion matters in death," Deseret News, August 25, 2011.

I think you would come across as less polemical in your writings if you would cut down on the practice of applying loaded labels such as "outspoken," "vocal," and "supremely complacent" to those you criticize.

Newport Beach, CA

The atheist who rhapsodized about hanging God drinking Merlot could not possibly have chosen a more appropriate beverage to evoke a tame, unthreatening, go-along, get-along harmless deity.

Surely the wine the Almighty furnished the Cana wedding feast was more challenging than that glorified fruit punch. Pinot, probably.

Orem, UT

Wow, Justin. Really? "Vocal"? "Outspoken"? Such things are pretty mild, hardly very combative or polemical. Even "supremely complacent" -- which seems pretty obvious, at least to me, from that comment made by an unidentified person nearly a decade and a half ago -- isn't particularly rough.

A Scientist
Provo, UT

I don't mind your "just" and "merciful" god, in the same way I have no problem with a Santa who has a naughty and nice list.

What no rational, ethical human being should ever tolerate, however, is the capricious, inconsistent, arbitrariness of the Mormon god.

sandy, ut


And to add to your example, there are some who have tried it, and don't like it. Some people don't like killing animals for fun, can you blame them? They would rather take a picture of the animal then blow it away. Some people don't like hiking, they would rather go swimming or bike riding or whatever. That doesn't mean they are missing something by not hiking, it means they found something else to entertain and captivate them. Nothing wrong with that. Same thing with religion, many have tried the Mormon church, and just don't believe in it. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. Personally, Sunday is my day to take my family hiking, fishing, and exploring. That, to me, is much more worthwhile then hanging out at church for 3 hours and then watching TV the rest of the day because everything else is breaking the Sabbath.


My friend, "The Scientist" spoke of a "capricious, inconsistent, arbitrar[y]...Mormon god."

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints I can truthfully say that I do not recognize the "god" of which he speaks. I recognize in the scriptures, and in the words of prophets and apostles, as well as in the answers to my prayers, the God of Heaven and earth--the God who has always and will always guide his people by speaking to them--to warn them of impending trouble and to mourn over those who will not get out of the way of that trouble's approach.

This is no more inconsistent or arbitrary than warning a drunkard off of train tracks ahead of an approaching freight train. Surely even "the scientist" would do so, and mourn over those foolish enough not to move out of the way.

layton, UT

RE: Commonman the God of Heaven and earth True,

Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD(YHWH). Do not I fill 'heaven and earth'? saith the LORD(YHWH). Jeremiah 23:24.

God Father,we use both metaphor and analogy. God has no body, why is God spoken of in masculine terms? We liken God to a human father by metaphor, without suggesting that God possesses certain traits inherent in human fatherhood male gender, for example. We speak of God as Father by analogy because, while God is not male, He really possesses certain other characteristics of human fathers, although He possesses these in a different way (analogously)without creaturely limitations. St. Augustine.

He is not a tame lion. He is dangerous, and an unconquerable enemy, but he is unquestionably good. The lion Aslan is a metaphor for Jesus.

west jordan, UT

Brahmabull- You say "nothing wrong with that" but in saying that, it seems that you declare yourself as God- or just pretending that there are only your rules to keep and God has not spoken on the subject. You can do that, but to ignore the rules, doesn't mean they don't apply and there will not be one day a price to pay.
I'm reminded of this when I read your comments "They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol"
Good luck with that, I don't want to do that- I hope I don't.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

"...What no rational, ethical human being should ever tolerate, however, is the capricious, inconsistent, arbitrariness of the Mormon god." (A Scientist)

"....As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints I can truthfully say that I do not recognize the "god" of which he speaks...." (Commonman)

I do, Commonman. But I don’t limit it to “the Mormon god.” Capricious, inconsistent, and arbitrary describe how conflicting views of the divine develop. Skeptics of Mormon claims ridicule the idea of Joseph Smith burying his face in his hat to ‘translate’ the Book of Mormon. But that image is no more surreal than Moses hearing the voice of God coming from a burning bush, or Mohammed hearing bells ringing to announce the angel Gabriel.

Mormonism is no aberration from the Western religious tradition. It’s characteristic of it in claiming events that are unprovable, improbable, and often preposterous by standards of rational thought. Why should we act surprised? After all, religion is not about getting people to think. It’s about getting them to believe.

Back Talk
Federal Way, WA

Even in a politically acceptible world people understand when a parent might "spank" a child when he runs into the street. It is an action that might put the childs life in danger and therefore it is more acceptible to be firm in teaching the child that his behavior is not acceptible.

When God punishes us when we chose to repeatedly disobey him, he is doing the same thing as the parent because the eternal life of the child is in danger. It is not an inconsequential thing as most critics make it out to be.

Actions do produce consequences.

Somewhere in Time, UT

Dear Scientist and Red Corvette,

Whenever I read your comments, it always makes me so grateful for the knowledge I have of the True and Living God and the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I am also completely grateful that I have a husband with the same knowledge and conviction. I'm so thankful that my husband and I are united in our faith. That is a wonderful strength to our marriage and the only way for two people to truly be one.

The gospel is true. I know this through living the principles. I also know it through personal revelation that I have received from God.

clearfield, UT

Scientist and Craig Clark

I think and I believe. In fact thinking in my 20s about why I did not believe in God, actually led me to believe in him. What do ya think about that?

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